Harvest Stew: Fall & Winter Staple

January 11th, 2018

Whew, the Pacific Northwest in the Winter is no joke. Today it poured. A few weeks ago it snowed. It’s been gray, wet, cold, and dark here. The days are getting lighter yes, but it is such a slow process!

This time of year is one I struggle with. I absolutely love cozy days at home drinking tea and reading books. But I am also anxious for more light and for all of the delicious things that come with spring.

My go-to during the winter months is soup. It warms my home and my soul. Not to mention it packs a big punch when it comes to eating a variety of vegetables–something I struggle with during this time of year.

I stumbled on this harvest stew on Pinterest a few months ago. It uses sausage, carrots, parsnips, celery, potatoes, onions (but ewww I don’t eat those so I left them out, see the post on that here), kale (which I actually forgot to include–oops!), and butternut squash.

Find the full recipe and directions from The Cozy Apron by clicking here. I love how the flavors combine and provide a filling, nourishing soup that warms the soul.

You can change the veggies depending on what’s available, change the meat to create different kinds of flavors, and change the consistency to match what you are in the mood for!

One night, I made both a vegetarian version and a meat version of this soup. I ended up taking half of the veggie soup and using the hand blender to purée it. The end result was three different variations of the same soup: meat and veggies, just veggies, and puréed veggies.

I appreciate any recipe that can be versatile and customizable. I think both of these are important when someone is learning how to cook.

For me, it allows me to try new things within a framework of a bare-bones recipe. I happen to really enjoy creative parameters. Not to mention it teaches me how flavors pair together and how to cook different items to make a stellar soup.

Creative Parameters

I took the recipe I linked to above and boiled it down to the essence–which is really the essence of most soups. Four basic ideas create the structure of the recipe:

  1. Brown meat* (if you are using meat that is, if not skip) 
  2. Add veggies + spices
  3. Add broth or stock
  4. Cook (the timing of how long to cook the soup for varies based on what’s in the soup, and I’m still learning that myself, but I would guess anywhere from 25-50 minutes) 

*If you are like me and either don’t know what browning meat is or didn’t figure it out until recently, rejoice! You are not alone. See the post here where I talk about learning about browning meat.

From the four basic ideas, you can create different kinds of soups. Experiment with vegetables, meats, and spices. Maybe you want to make a curry flavor inspired version of this soup using chicken instead of pork sausage. Maybe you want to make it really spicy and use andouille sausage.

The thing I love most about creative parameters is that they allow you to be creative and try new things in the kitchen. I often get overwhelmed with trying to create my own recipe OR I think I have to stick to a recipe exactly (expect, of course, excluding the onions!). Looking at a recipe in terms of the framework it provides allows me to understand the basic idea so that I am able to switch the recipe up when I want to try something new!

Cheers to learning new things in the kitchen, creative parameters, and delicious soul-warming bowls of soup.


Did you make this soup? What are your thoughts? Have any experience with creative parameters? Share below!

All photos and videos my own.  

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